Advent: Using Handel's "Messiah" as an Advent Devotional Guide
Everyone has family Christmas traditions. I'm sure one of yours instantly was brought to mind. After years of Alexandra and I trying to establish our own for our kids, we have finally discovered one that was an instant hit, and that is being repeated as we speak - hopefully to be repeated year after year: Using Handel's "Messiah" as a sort of Advent Devotional Guide for nightly family worship.
You may be vageuly familair with the famous "Hallelujah!" chorus due to awful commercials trying to promote a new product of theirs for black Friday, or from this famous flash mob viral video of the chorus being sung in a Mall foot court by a professional choir (a must see!). But have you ever listened to the entire Oratorio? If you haven't or if its been a while, its not to late to chip away piece by piece for your Advent devotional.
MESSIAH AS AN ADVENT DEVOTIONAL
The idea came from Cindy Rollin's devotional entitled "Hallelujah" - which does just that. She has broken apart the entire piece into small daily sizes, complete with poetry and other resources to use for family worship.
I highly recommend this resource. Yet, it is possible do without as well. Messiah is one long, 2.5 hour piece that walks the listener through the prophetic annoucement of Christ's Birth, into his passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and the glory of his victory as he is seated at the right hand of the Father.
The entire Oratorio is sung using Scripture only. Every word. It is also divided into three parts, and each part is also divided into smaller sections of Scripture that tell one part of the story.
The music comes as close to matching the glory of the story - as much as I would consider humanly possible. In fact, the first time it was played public on April 13, 1742 in Dublin, it is said that as soon as the choir began singing the infamous "Hallelujah!" chorus, King George II instantly stood, as did the rest of the flabergasted audience. The tradition has been kept to this day. Even my own children stand when the chours plays (how can you not?)!
Walking through the Oratorio
Below is a link to a few items that I encourage you to use if you are still on the hunt for an Advent Devotional.
HANDEL'S MESSIAH AND ITS SCRIPTURE - This is a link to the organiztion of all the moving parts of Handels Messiah, including the Scripture. I wrote it up using various sources online, filling in some pieces here or there, and stealing work from other public domain sources.
It also contains time stamps to a specific performance that is currently found on YouTube - Sir Colin Davis as the condctor, which can be found here.
So how can you use this for your Advent devotional? Simply begin at the Overture, read through the upcoming Scripture, stop, meditate and refelct on what you just read, then allow Davis' performance of the music to lead you further and deeper into the Scripture you just read. After each section or two, pause the video, and reflect further.
You will be lead to deep prayer and deep comtemplation if you challenge your self to embark on such a journey. And you may even find yourself with a tear in your eye from time to time, if you allow yourself to.
May this beautiful music and the Scripture sung lead you close to Jesus this Advent season,
Pastor Daniel Nelms
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